The bargaining theory of war and peace


  • Charles H. Anderton College of the Holy Cross Department of Economics Worcester, MA



Bargaining theory, war, peace


The bargaining theory of war and peace has emerged as an important research framework in the social sciences for understanding why wars occur and why opportunities for peace sometimes fail. Close to a dozen distinct “rationalist” sources of war have been theoretically modeled in the bargaining literature, empirical studies of war and peace are increasingly drawing upon bargaining models for theoretical guidance, and “nonrationalist” sources of war based on insights from psychology and sociology can be incorporated into the theory. This article briefly surveys key elements and results of the bargaining theory of war and it emphasizes the untapped potential for the framework to serve as a theory of peace in both research and teaching.

Author Biography

Charles H. Anderton, College of the Holy Cross Department of Economics Worcester, MA

Professor of Economics


Anderton, C.H. and J.R. Carter. 2011. “A Bargaining Theory Perspective on War,” pp. 29–51 in D.L. Braddon and K. Hartley, eds. Handbook on the Economics of Conflict. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.

Fearon, J.D. 1995. “Rationalist Explanations for War.” International Organization. Vol. 49, No. 3, pp. 379–414.

Isard, W. 1994. “Peace Economics: A Topical Perspective.” Peace Economics, Peace Science and Public Policy. Vol. 1, No. 2, pp. 9–11.

Mitchell, S.M. 2017. “Dangerous Bargains with the Devil? Incorporating New Approaches in Peace Science for the Study of War.” Conflict Management and Peace Science. Vol. 34, No. 1, pp. 98–116.

Sambanis, N., S. Skaperdas, and W. Wohlforth. 2015. “Nation-Building through War.” American Political Science Review. Vol. 109, No. 2, pp. 279–296.

Schelling, T.C. 1960. The Strategy of Conflict. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.




How to Cite

Anderton, C. H. (2017). The bargaining theory of war and peace. The Economics of Peace and Security Journal, 12(2).




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